This fall is a season of change for me as I dive deeper into my last semester of undergraduate work and attempt to look beyond my December graduation for any kind of indication of where I might be headed. In addition to living the life of a regular undergraduate student, I'm currently in the process of completing two senior projects: a media colloquium, and an honors thesis. Those commitments and my desire for achievement in them sit on top of my financial need for work, and the hours I devote to money making endeavors.
Shortly stated, I'm one busy young woman.
The catch with that isn't that I have "too much going on", but that I refuse to settle for less than perfect in all these items that have become such large entities in my life and the definition of who I am. That sounds really great, right? Here's this young motivated person seeking so diligently to make an early and monumental splash in corporate America...I call myself wonder woman.
I've experienced the harsh reminders of 2pm energy crashes, missed deadlines, and subpar work that drive me back to reality -- I'm not a super hero, and as much as I wish it were true, I actually need to sleep at night. And that brings me to where I am in life today. Just the other day, in the span of 12 hours, three different people shared three variations of the same piece of wisdom and encouragement with me and each one seemed to build on the last. I suppose you could say the big man upstairs really wanted my attention.
It was Tuesday. I filled my time between my 8:30am and 1pm class with honors thesis work and a meeting with my facility advisor about my project and where I'm going with it.
Be Good at What You Do
My thesis is two credits which means I'll have a research component, but also an application side.
I'll be presenting about Bridge Marketing to Hispanic populations in South Omaha, NE. My research findings will be implemented into an executive summary. Essentially this lays out how one should go about framing and designing a marketing campaign. All of this information will the be transposed into a detailed and creative brochure like handout.
After working through all of this with my advisor I asked her, "Do you think this is enough for a two credit thesis? I mean I feel like some of this won't actually take me that long."
She almost chuckled at me! She proceeded to tell me for what I didn't know then would be the first of three times I'd hear the message, that the measure of what my work is worth doesn't come from the amount of time I put into the work, but rather the outcome. She reminded me that I've been preparing for this for the last 3 years leading up to this, and a good thesis is a project that demonstrates the skills and knowledge I've gained not just in this isolated project, but over the course of my entire undergraduate career.
"What might take someone two weeks to research might only take you two days. And that's O.K.", she shared.
Know Where You Fit
I suppose you could say I sort of stumbled out of her office and in to class. I then left my 1pm art class early to make a 2:20pm exiting meeting at Fresh Produce about my internship there this summer. I talked to Mike and Ted for longer than my allotted time slot. We talked about things I felt and learned throughout the internship, but also things they saw. At one point I told Mike that one thing I learned was what it was like to work with people who are experts, who specialize in one area. My training is a little bit in a lot of areas and I'm used to working with people in similar situations.
This conversation led way to talking about roles and teamwork, and roles within a team. It's no secret to anyone at FP that I struggled to find my role within our team, but I also couldn't find a way to just let go. Mike helped me arrive at the conclusion that a large part of what I learned this summer was that the really good things take time, patience, and constant improvement. We talked about how I have skills that others don't, and how being part of a team makes it even more important that I use those skills. Essentially, Mike and Ted helped me twist my thesis advisor's words and deepen the meaning to not just using my skills and not judging my work based on the norm, but also to know where those skills fit and how they're needed.
Trust You're Important
Then, I rushed home to change, slap on some makeup and make it to a formal honors banquet. Here the Honors Program Director and Associate English Professor, Jenny Bangsund addressed our group near the end of the event. She told a story from her high school graduation experience. She watched a caricature artist for what seemed like hours, and noticed before finishing each piece he stamped "TGE" on each as he moved on to the next one. Finally she asked the artist what that meant, why the "TGE" on each piece. He gave a stark reply of, "that's good enough".
This artist literally finished each of his pieces by deciding, "meh, this is good enough". Dr. Bangsund proceeded to remind us all that while yes, as honors students we have some hefty projects and commitments on our shoulders, and many of us feel the need for perfection, sometimes things are simply just good enough.
She reminded us that there's a time when we have to step back from our work and understand that though it seems far from perfection, no matter the medium, it's a product of our best work, and valuable efforts. That led me to another idea however; why be perfect when you can original? And I think that's where my biggest learning lesson from Tuesday came.
Instead of trying so hard to fit a mold made by a few loud voices in society, my worth comes from what I'm producing and doing as a product of my own, not a cookie cutter design template. It was a great reminder for me as I dig into not just my senior projects, but my journey for whatever comes next after this diploma arrives in the mail.
We're all skilled and talented in different ways. Those things allow us to excel where others grit their teeth, they help us form unstoppable teams, and they remind us that we're human.